Damon Hill has admitted that he is looking forward to adding his opinion on what he expects to be one of the most exciting F1 seasons of all time, having been confirmed as part of Sky Sports' new team of motorsport experts.
Hill's addition to the team came as something of a surprise, but the 1996 world champion will line up alongside former rival Martin Brundle and the rest of the recently announced line-up when the 2012 season kicks off in Australia. The former BRDC president has confirmed that he will fill a similar role to that perfected by another peer, David Coulthard, at the BBC in the past three years, rather than joining Brundle in the commentary box.
"It was first discussed around Christmas and I just considered it too good an opportunity not to take up," Hill revealed in a brief interview with his new employer's website, "It was very straightforward, really. Even though it's a few years since I stopped driving, I've never stopped looking at F1 and never lost interest. It's a sport that I love.
"The timing was also extremely appealing. Until recently, I've been very much involved in the BRDC and focused on our work there, but I'm now freed up from that and able to follow the circus again during what is a very exciting time for the sport.
"I'll be a pre-race and post-race pundit rather than a race co-commentator. I was a commentator for the Hungarian GPs some years ago and I must admit, I don't envy their job. The commentator has a critical role all through the race because he is the link between the audience watching at home and what is happening on the track. Their job is absolutely crucial because they have to create and convey the excitement. It's much easier to have something to say after the race when the dust has settled."
Hill admitted that he was particularly excited about commenting on the current crop of young drivers, which have excelled on track despite Sebastian Vettel's back-to-back title triumphs.
"In my view, because of the amount of young talent coming through, F1 is now more competitive than it has ever been before," the Briton insisted, "There's so much talent and so much strength in depth.
"In most other sports, opinions are all that matter [but], in F1, with every car now carrying a computer, a driver knows that he is being is tested and watched at every moment. You are judged after every lap and everything you do is analysed - what work you do in the gym, your state of mind, the lines you take on a track. There's just no hiding place at any moment."
Hill will play a part in coverage of ten of the season's 20 races, including F1's annual trip to the circuit he helped to keep on the schedule.
"We should be very proud that Great Britain continues to play such a disproportionate role in what is a truly global sport," he insisted, "Bernie is British, we have had British world champions, and the majority of teams are still based in Britain. It's a true asset and, with all due respect to France, which is still the home of the FIA, I do still consider F1 to be ours."
Hill will also be present for the Australian, Bahrain, Monaco, German, Hungarian, Belgian, Indian, USA and Brazilian rounds. Along with Brundle, he joins commentator David Croft, pit-lane reporters Ted Kravitz and Natalie Pinkham and fellow driver-turned-analyst Anthony Davidson on the Sky team.